Northwood Racquet & Fitness Club

Northwood Racquet & Fitness Club

Tennis is a fiercely competitive sport, requiring both physical and mental agility. But with the exception of some famous rivalries — think Connors and McEnroe — where moments at the net were sometimes less than cordial, the sport is highly social, bringing together people of all ages and abilities.

That’s the love point the owners of Northwood Racquet & Fitness Club strive for as they welcome tennis and racquet sports enthusiasts from five years old to over 70.

“It’s really a family club, and we approach it more from that standpoint than simply thinking of it as a business,” says Corette Stahley, one of the club owners. “We have to make money, but we approach it as a place for families.”

Built in 1975 by local tennis enthusiast Jack Witty, the club was later purchased by a group of investors in 1984, including Don and Corette Stahley, and Don and Pam Potts. The Potts’ son, Matt Potts, is the club’s tennis director, and a former nationally ranked amateur tennis player who is certified as a tennis professional by the United States Professional Tennis Association.

“At that time, I was 10, and it was toward the end of the racquetball boom,” says Matt, whose wife, Amy, serves as general manager. “There used to be many more racquetball players than tennis players. That gradually changed.”

Top Notch Facilities & Programs

From the moment you walk in the door at Northwood, there’s a feeling of hospitality and a staff that’s ready to help people learn to enjoy tennis as a lifetime activity, or reintroduce people to it after they have been away for some time.

When Don and Corette Stahley took over management of the club in 2013, they put in more than $250,000 of improvements, including new lighting, ceiling, air conditioning, heating, and carpet in the lobby, and resurfaced courts indoors and outdoors to accommodate a rising interest in tennis. “It’s a totally different club,” Matt says.

Northwood now offers five indoor and five outdoor green Har-Tru clay tennis courts, pickleball in winter, a fitness center, and four racquetball courts for the dedicated players who still enjoy the sport that became popular in the 1980s. Racquetball courts are also used for wallyball, a new sport that’s a cross between racquetball and volleyball.

Northwood offers multiple programs throughout the year, led by a staff of veteran tennis pros, including Jermaine Smith, winner of five consecutive Jamaica national titles and four-time Jamaican Tennis Player of the Year, who represented his country in the Davis Cup competition for more than 10 years.

Year round, the club offers a Unites States Tennis Association award-winning junior tennis program, as well as classes for adults, from the novice to advanced player, including low-cost introductory eight-week clinics for those who want to learn in a fun, nonjudgmental environment.

Memberships are not required to play at Northwood “because we want to open our facilities to everyone,” says Amy Potts. “But membership has benefits, including less expensive court fees, less expensive classes, the ability to reserve courts, and access to the fitness center.”

One of the popular features at Northwood is the viewing area, which provides a sweeping view of the courts where family members can cheer on the players. “When we have kids playing, the lobby is filled with parents,” says Corette Stahley, who credits Amy and Matt for creating an energy that attracts players and instills passion for tennis.

Northwood now offers five indoor and five outdoor green Har-Tru clay tennis courts

“A lot of families play because it’s a great sport and we have such a big junior program that draws kids and parents,” Amy Potts says. An alumni of Northwood’s junior program, Chris Conrad, whose friends and parents would watch him play from the viewing area on Saturday mornings, says the tennis community at Northwood helped him find a deep passion for the sport.

“While growing up, I spent multiple hours a day training and working with the tennis pros at the facility,” says Conrad, a United States Professional Tennis Registry certified tennis professional. He now shares his love of tennis as head coach for the girl’s and boy’s tennis program at Liberty High School and assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Moravian College.

“I often considered Northwood my second home, in part because of how much time I spent training there, but mostly because of the lifelong friendships I gained off the court with my peers and coaches,” he says. “When my current players ask where to go, I always point them to where I grew up playing, at Northwood.”

A Passion That’s Contagious

As a tennis instructor, Matt Potts works with as many as 150 kids over the summer, many of them discovering tennis for the first time. He remembers how he rejected tennis as a kid, thinking that guys wearing white shorts were somehow less than physical.

“It’s an incredibly physical game, and before long, I also discovered that there’s so much strategy and mental toughness required, too,” he says, qualities that still help him as a practicing attorney—in another type of court altogether.

“It’s neat to see guys who are less athletic destroying athletic guys because they are just smart,” Matt says with a grin. “You teach young players first to hit the ball, and that’s fun. But when they’re able to think about what they’re doing, that’s the best thing in the world.

Every tennis pro is different, and Matt, who played first singles and first doubles at Lehigh University as a Patriot League All-Star, has a distinct way of working with players of all levels, says Corette Stahley. Prior to becoming a teaching professional, Matt achieved success at a national level reaching a ranking of 28th in the nation in singles.

“Matt has a fantastic personality dealing with people—he’s very complimentary of the kids and encourages them with just the right amount of rah-rah, and with a little bit of ‘you can do better.’”

Charis Innarella, who has worked the front desk at Northwood for more than 30 years and watched Matt grow up at the club, says, “He teaches them to want to win. Everyone wants to be here, and he’s part of that.”

Your Body on Tennis

Matt Potts has played tennis for almost his entire life and knows how it can strengthen physical and mental agility.

“It’s good for bone density because of the bouncing you do while preparing to return a ball,” he says. “I think of it as one of the best anaerobic activities you can do. High-intensity workouts are popular right now, and tennis is one of the best.”

“Typically when playing tennis, you spend 7-10 seconds a point, but you’re really exerting yourself —10 seconds of hard work, 20 seconds of rest between points. It’s a great cardio activity,” he says, adding that people who play tennis three times a week cut their risk of death in half from any cause.

“Part of it is the social network you get in addition to the exercise,” Potts says. “We have people who play a little, then sit for coffee and hang out. The social aspect of the sport is very healthy, too.”

For those who may not want to chase down whizzing forehand shots on a tennis court, pickleball, a fast-growing sport, is another healthy option. Combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, it provides a good workout and doesn’t require as much intense running as tennis.

Northwood Racquet & Fitness Club
3738 Northwood Ave | Easton  |  610.258.2907

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